Doctors welcome Health Committee Report on Alcohol Legislation

Doctors are increasingly caring for more the almost 200,000 chronic dependant drinkers who are attending with organ damage, cancers, cirrhosis and liver failure, heart failure and problems related to the brain and nervous system

Doctors have welcomed a report published today, 22 June 2015, on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 by the Joint Committee on Health and Children which supports the introduction of a minimum unit price of alcohol, the labelling of alcohol products with health warnings and putting the regulation of alcohol advertising on a statutory basis.

Professor Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland and Consultant Gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital said, “Alcohol consumption in Ireland remains very high in comparison to other European countries and Irish people continue to binge drink more frequently than other nationalities. Alcohol causes dreadful medical illnesses and is a major contributor to accidents and suicide."

Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol targets only the cheapest, strongest alcohol and is a great strategy because it targets the heaviest and youngest drinkers. He said with current alcohol prices, a woman can reach low risk weekly drink limit for €6.30 and a man for less than €10. This initiative will affect problem drinkers and young adults, those most at risk from alcohol health harm. It will have little or no impact on the vast majority of people who drink alcohol.

He said that alcohol labelling is essential as the consumption of alcohol increases the risk of more than 60 diseases and medical conditions, including cancer. However, he said: “Labeling alone will not be sufficient to encourage the public to track their alcohol consumption as there is a poor understanding of recommended units of alcohol per week. Compulsory labeling should be implemented alongside a comprehensive education campaign on guidelines for low risk drinking.”

He said legislation is required to protect children and young people from alcohol marketing and advertising. “A ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports events would make a significant contribution to reducing alcohol related harm. We are in favour of implementing this ban on a phased basis, whereby all current sponsorship deals would be allowed to operate until 2019. This timeframe would allow all sporting organisations to acquire new sponsors without harming revenue or responses. We firmly support a complete ban on any new alcohol sponsorship deals coming into operation.”

“In Ireland, we now consume twice as much as we did 50 years ago. As a consequence, the number of deaths from cirrhosis has doubled here in the last 20 years. Sadly 88 people die every month in Ireland as a result of alcohol use.

“Research shows that about 80 per cent of Irish adults consume alcohol and more than half of those are classified as harmful drinkers. Almost 10 per cent of those who consume alcohol are dependent- and this rises to 15 per cent among 18-24 year olds” Prof Murray said.

Doctors are increasingly caring for more the almost 200,000 chronic dependant drinkers who are attending with organ damage, cancers, cirrhosis and liver failure, heart failure and problems related to the brain and nervous system. “Addressing the price and availability of alcohol is necessary to reduce the harm and death being caused to Irish men, women and children.”

For further information contact

Kate Healy 


Communications Manager


Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Direct Line 01 8639698 | Mobile 085 8722109 | Email katehealy@rcpi.ie